Monday, July 28, 2014

Richard and Linda Eyres' New Book: The Turning

Richard and Linda Eyre are like a second set of parents to me.

About 15 years ago, I knew them only through their books (which are amazing), but over the past seven years, as I have been running Power of Moms with their oldest daughter, Saren, I have had the chance to really get to know them.

And if there is one thing they absolutely stand for, it is the family.

Well, today is the first day of the launch campaign for their most recent book--The Turning--and I just ordered my copy on Amazon.

If you'd like to learn more about their book or join their book launch team, simply click here!






Sunday, July 27, 2014

EFY "Power of One" Class

Especially for Youth (from this point on written as EFY) is a conference organized by a group of amazing individuals at BYU for youth between the ages of 14 and 18. There are sessions held all over the U.S. (and maybe the world...I'm not sure), and I feel so grateful to have had the chance to be an EFY teacher since 2008.

I first attended EFY when I was 17, and it was honestly a life-changing experience for me.

To dedicate a whole week to spiritual growth and enjoy great friendships with like-minded individuals was empowering, and I always had this secret wish to get to teach there.

Well, back in 2007, our friend John Hilton--who has been involved in EFY for years--came to visit, and he said, "You know, April, there aren't a lot of mothers teaching at EFY. Why don't you apply?"

I'd never even considered the idea before. I didn't even know I could apply. For some reason, I had assumed teachers were chosen by invitation only.

But that little idea took root, and within a couple of months, my application was in.  (There's a funny story that goes with this about how I had to write out my application in little bursts of time because I was nursing Spencer at the time, and it was a period of my life where I rarely changed out of my pajamas...but I did eventually get my application in, and I was thrilled to be accepted.)

This is the Monday evening gathering at the session of EFY I attended this month:


And, really, what made this extra special was having my 14-year-old daughter, Alia, with me this time. In the past, I've gone alone, and it was 100 times better to have Alia there. She came to every class and even helped with one of my classes.  Love her.


Here's my "teacher view" of one of my classes (so fun that the room they assigned me is the EXACT room where Eric and I met 16 years ago).


And just in case any of you are wondering what kinds of things we teach in these classes, I recorded my "Power of One" class and thought I'd include the link here.  (You can click here or on the image below to watch it...)

http://www.anymeeting.com/powerofmoms/E051DC87834B

I'm not sure if my schedule is going to make it possible for me to go back to EFY again, but I'll keep my fingers crossed. It is a fantastic experience, and I feel blessed to have been a part of it.

With love,
April

Friday, July 25, 2014

Introduction to the Book I Need to Write

Dear Friends,

I've been thinking about you a lot lately. I don't know most of you personally, but for those who do comment here on this blog, I feel such a close kinship with you.

In fact, I keep feeling the desire to write here more often--just so I will have the chance to interact with you and learn from your wisdom.

It's amazing how we can gather together online, even when we're living our separate lives in different places around the world. This is a true miracle to me.

Right now I'm in the middle of our family's bustling summer activities.

We got back a couple of hours ago from a pool day with some friends, I just completed some computer work, and I'm heading downstairs in a few minutes to make snacks for my children and tidy the kitchen a bit.

But my heart has been full these past couple of weeks as I've been thinking about the book I need to write this year.

And since everything is quiet right now and the impression to type it here is coming strong, I decided I better pay attention to these feelings.

So here we go...the first draft of the introduction to my book:

____________________________________________________

My mom is currently in the last stages of Alzheimer's. It started a few years ago when she began to forget minor details--like where she put her phone or who had come to visit her that day. Then she started forgetting major things, like how to drive herself home or which bank held all the money she and my dad had saved.

I still remember the first day she couldn't recall the names of all her children--because my name was one that she'd forgotten. And now, as I write, she is in bed full time, with hospice care coming in three days a week because her legs have forgotten how to stand.

With millions of people suffering from Alzheimer's, our situation isn't entirely unique, but I have felt a consistent impression to write this book, and I'd like to explain the "why" a little bit more.

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for my Power of Moms website called "Your Children Want YOU!" That article, which was read by more than two million people, included the first public mention of my mom's memory loss (we didn't know then that it was Alzheimer's).

Since that time, as I have continued to write about our family's experiences and the powerful lessons my mom taught me, I've discovered that the story of her life isn't something I can keep to myself. People who have similar feelings of adoration for their mothers seem to want someone to put words to what they feel. And people who have painful memories of their mothers want to know how they can break the cycle in their own families. (These are brave, beautiful souls.)

So an idea came to me to write a follow-up book--this book--and share the stories that illustrate how my mom exemplified deliberate motherhood and how I am trying so hard to be like her.

As my mom's health slowly declined, I decided to write a chapter at a time and read it to her during my weekly visits.

But as her decline became more rapid, I stopped writing. I felt like I didn't have time and that maybe I should wait until she goes back to God. And then I can write.

But on a recent visit to my mother's bedside, the instructions came clearly:

April, you need to make this record. There is time for you to write. It will be a gift for you to read it to her. And even though she may appear not to know what you are reading, she will know. And she will feel the love you have for her. And she will see clearly that her work in this life has been worth it.

So I am writing--imperfectly at best--because I don't think it is possible to adequately capture the immense love I feel for my mother and for her lasting influence on my life.

But I do what I feel the Lord wants me to do, and I hope through this process, these stories that are so close to my heart will be helpful to you, as well.

With love,
April




Saturday, July 19, 2014

Recording the Ordinary

We just got home tonight after traveling for two weeks as a family. (It feels so great to be in our own little place again!)

Grace had a basketball camp at BYU the first week, and Alia and I attended a conference called "Especially for Youth" the second week (I was a teacher, and she was a participant), 


and in the midst of all that, we spent lots of time with family and friends, attended Eric's high school reunion, and simply enjoyed the beauty of the mountains, lakes, and rivers in Utah.




I don't typically write up vacation details on this blog (because I worry about leaving anyone or anything out), and I always feel like I need to write about "important" things so I don't waste the time of anyone who happens to stop by and read this, but tonight I had the feeling that I need to start recording more of the ordinary (because someday the details of this "ordinary" life might mean more to me than I know).

So here's what happened today:

- We had a ping pong tournament in my sister's basement:


- Then the cousins ran down the street and chased our car while we all waved goodbye.

- We drove for 10 hours to get home--singing our favorite songs for at least three of those hours, reading books and watching movies for a few more hours, stopping for lunch at Cafe Rio, and (of course) Eric let me take a great nap. He's so good to me.

- We also had a wonderful talk on the drive and read through the "Entertainment and Media" section of a little pamphlet from church called "For the Strength of Youth." (You can google it if you want to see what it says.) We talked about how media can be fantastic for helping us learn, communicate, and become better people. And we discussed how easy it can be to get distracted by screens and waste precious time. Today was also the first day I really talked with Spencer about what pornography is. He's only six, but I wanted to start the dialogue now so that he will know which things are appropriate and which things are not.

- I read on Facebook today about a friend of a friend's whose husband of 16 years died in a car accident, and how she and her six children have been so blessed and cared for during this traumatic time. (I can't even imagine...)

I held Eric's hand tight during the whole rest of the drive and thought deeply about how I want to live every day with no regrets--making sure my family members feel my love and doing everything I can to listen to God and be an instrument in His hands. I want to be totally ready to go whenever it is my time.

Yes, it's easy to get caught up in the insignificant details of life, and yes, I am anxious to get our garage organized and our bedroom painted.

But when I really think about what's most important, it's the people I love and the work God wants me to do. (Doesn't that feel so simple?)

So that's my record for now. Hope all of you who are reading this are feeling strong and supported today. I wish we could all just sit around and really talk at the end of each night, but for now, I invite you to share any thoughts you've been having lately, and I will just consider this the next best thing! 

With love,
April



Thursday, June 26, 2014

What I Need to Say About Faith, Power, and Womanhood

I typically stay out of "media firestorms."

It's simply not where I feel my voice is most effective.

I write often about my faith, and I do my best to strengthen families and help people of all religions to find common ground, but I rarely feel the desire or the responsibility to add my words to a flurry of voices--many of which seem to be arguing simply for the sake of arguing.

But this week, the church I love has been prominently featured in mostly all (if not all) of the top media sources--discussing women and the priesthood--and the headlines have made my heart hurt.

I understand that this is the way media works. They grab onto issues that strike at the core of controversial topics, and they write their stories in a way that will generate the most clicks and the most heated debates.

I also understand that there is a lot of deep emotion involved here--and there are women with serious questions and concerns that need to be discussed and resolved.  I am all for calm, meaningful discussions.

It's just that jumping into the middle of a heated debate, where the focus seems to be more on "getting attention" than "getting to the heart of the issue" has never appealed to me.

But the other day, I read this line in one of the articles: "Most Mormon women stay silent on the issue of equality."

And the more I thought and prayed about this, the more I felt that I needed to say something--not in an attempt to throw myself into the craziness out there, but to leave a record for my daughters and granddaughters who may someday wonder where I stood on this subject. I simply can't risk my silence mistakenly communicating the idea that either (1) I don't care or (2) I wasn't allowed to speak. (Neither of which statements are true.)

Today, I am going to share just a little bit of my story and create a simple record of things I know to be true.

In one of the interviews I read, a woman at the heart of this movement said that she had been raised by a mother who said, "one day women will hold the priesthood."

This struck me to be so different than the way my mother (a lifetime member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) raised me.

I don't know if she and I ever talked specifically about women and the priesthood, but in essence, her words and actions said this:

"Through our faith in Jesus Christ, both women and men currently have the privilege to receive all of the blessings the Father has for us. There is no need to wait for anything. The power is yours. Now. And I'm going to show you how to access it."

And then she did.

She taught me to pray. She taught me to feast on the scriptures. She taught me to listen to promptings from the Spirit, she taught me to serve others and happily do whatever God asked me to do. She showed me how to work side-by-side with my husband and train my children and turn to the right Source for anything I could ever possibly need.

And as she taught me these things, I was an eyewitness to the fruits of that kind of faith.

Angels minister to my mother. Miracles happen. Her influence and light extends across the globe to millions of people, and there is a beauty and peace and unbelievable power that even the most eloquent words will never come close to describing.

I am a grateful, happy member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I feel 100% equal to my husband (who loves and honors the priesthood he bears) and to every other priesthood holder I have ever known, and I know that my ability to serve within our church is magnified by the priesthood--not diminished. Not once have I felt slighted or unappreciated because I am a woman. Not once.

I feel empowered, cherished, protected, and blessed--and confident beyond measure that the Lord is aware of each of us and wants His sons and daughters to receive every blessing He has for us.

Our church is a living, growing organization. And yes, if the Lord needs to make changes, they will be directed by those given the stewardship to do so. I trust that.

I feel for those who have obviously not had the same experiences I have had. I in no way mean to diminish their pain or their situations by sharing my opposite view, but in all the areas I have lived--coast to coast--the experiences I have shared above have been the rule--not the exception.

So to my daughters and granddaughters, please know that I have absolute confidence in the way our church is organized. Please remember that you are a cherished child of God, and that your potential to influence and strengthen the world is limitless. And please do everything in your power to carry on the legacy of faith that is your privilege to carry.


I am leaving the comments open on this post, and I am happy to answer any questions those who are reading this might have. I do ask that all comments and questions be written respectfully, in a way that generates helpful discussion.

With love,
April

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Lifted

My mom is declining. And it's happening faster than I thought it would.

She's sleeping about 20 hours a day now. Her legs won't let her stand. She's forgotten how to write her name. She needs to be reminded to swallow.

But there's something powerful happening that I felt I needed to record tonight.

I'm being lifted.

This morning when I woke up and thought about the various challenges that are hurting my heart (my mom's situation at the forefront), I whispered, "I can't do this. It's too much. I'm not strong enough."

But a couple of hours later, during the closing hymn at church, we sang this:

Fear not, I am with thee. Oh be not dismayed.
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand.
Upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand.

At that moment, the message was for me, and I heard this:

I'll help you, April. You don't need to be afraid. I am with you. Trust me. I have never let you down.

And those words stayed with me all afternoon...as I thought about how I will say goodbye, as I considered how to start the conversation with my dad about "final arrangements," and as I spoke with my mom briefly on the phone (I could feel what she was trying to say, but all I could hear were partial sentences and slurred words).

Then tonight I was given two tender mercies.

The first was from Grace, who could see my tears as we got Spencer's room straightened up before getting him into bed.

"It'll be okay, Mom," she said. "I mean, would you rather have grandma remember nothing and be with you physically--or remember everything and be with you spiritually?"

Her wisdom touched my heart, and I turned to her and opened my arms. We just stood together in the center of the room, hugging each other tight.

Then Alia went into the office and started printing something off the computer, and after I reminded her it was time to get to bed, she said, "One minute...you're going to like this."

The next thing I knew, she was downstairs playing a simplified version of "Blue Moon," the song my mom used to always play on the piano.

I stood at the top of the stairs--mesmerized--and watched her play--thinking about how blessed I am to have children who know exactly how to take care of me. If there was one song in the world that had the power to calm my heart tonight, that was it.

When I walked to the bottom of the stairs, she stopped and pointed to another piece of sheet music. "I printed the harder version for you."

Now, let me stop here for a moment to explain that I have heard my mom play Blue Moon for 36 years, and I have never once been able to play it myself. She didn't have the sheet music, and I never took the time when she was healthy to ask her to teach it to me. When I have tried to pick it out on the piano (watching videos of her and attempting to copy her hands), I've ended up totally frustrated.

But tonight when I sat down to play the music Alia had found, it was the exact same key and the exact same music my mom has been playing all these years.

I am not much of a pianist, but here's a little video in case you'd like to hear it:



I don't know how much longer my mom has, and I don't have a clear understanding of everything this process is supposed to teach me, but I am absolutely certain that the Lord is aware of our needs. And just as He is lifting me and my family during this time, I have zero doubts that He will do the same for you.

Much love,
April



Saturday, May 24, 2014

Top 5 Reasons We Love Grandma Peggy

Today is the birthday of my sweet mother-in-law (whom we affectionately call Grandma Peggy).

Every year as her birthday approaches, I always wonder how I can adequately express how much I admire her.

So today I thought I would gather my children and share a little bit about why we love having Grandma Peggy in our lives.

(1) When you go to Grandma Peggy's house, she rolls out the red carpet.

There are usually freshly-baked cookies, beds all made up with colorful quilts--and chocolates on the pillows, tasty snacks, toys and new pajamas for the kids, and basically anything you could possibly want or need--all prepared with love. But the most important part of that whole set-up is Grandma Peggy--there with her arms extended, ready to give each of us a hug. She has this amazing ability to make everybody feel like they're at home.

(2) With Grandma Peggy, you never get the feeling that she is too busy for you.

The fact of the matter is that Peggy is really busy--working long hours at the school for the deaf, taking care of her friends and family, serving at church and in the community, plus managing all of the "normal" stuff that needs to happen when you're running a household.

But whenever you call or visit, she sits back and somehow figures out how to make things work so you don't feel rushed. Sometimes I just talk and talk and talk--about things going on that I hadn't even intended on mentioning. But having such a sweet listening ear just brings it out of me.

(3) She has a beautiful talent for encouraging others.

I could go on forever listing the ways she cares for young children at her work and how she supports all of us in our various activities, but one of my favorite stories is about what she did for a missionary who was serving in the Philippines alongside one of her children. He wasn't receiving any letters or packages or anything from his family, and Peggy simply couldn't live with that. So she started writing to him--regularly. And she sent him special things in the mail. Someone she had never even met--and most likely would never meet. Yet she wanted to take care of him while he was serving the Lord. I love that.

(4) Grandma Peggy is funny.

With six children, who have lively personalities of their own, there's always something unique going on at the Perry house. Peggy embraces the humor. She plays games, helps with dress-up parties, and even poses for ridiculous photo ops for her daughters to post on Instagram (I won't re-post them here). Her laugh is comforting, and she's such an example to me.

(5) Grandma is the birthday/holiday QUEEN

Ever since I joined the Perry family 15 years ago, Peggy has shipped packages our way for every birthday and major holiday. She's honestly an expert when it comes to being thoughtful.

Alia gave a talk in church for Mother's Day, and this is what she said about Grandma Peggy:

My grandma loves to give gifts, and she never ever forgets a holiday! On Christmas, Valentine's Day, Halloween, birthdays, and many other holidays, we can expect a knock at the door from our mail carrier or a package in our mailbox.

These aren't just normal packages--they are covered in stickers, and sometimes personalized for the person or the holiday! She fills the packages with toys, books, movies, and candy. I've even been able to help her fill a few myself.

I can really see how much love and effort she puts into each one!

Because my grandma loves and never forgets her children and grandchildren, I was reminded of a scripture from Isaiah 49:16. The Lord has promised us that He will not forget us because He has "graven us upon the palms of His hands." And our promise to Him is that we will not forget Him, for we have engraven Him in our hearts.

Happy birthday, Grandma Peggy (Mom)! You have one of the sweetest hearts I have ever known, and we feel so privileged to call you ours. 


 



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